A Review by: Jeff Turner
Dir: Paul Feig
Written by: Paul Feig
Produced by: Peter Chermin, Paul Feig, Jenno Topping, Jessie Henderson
Currently Playing At: Aksarben Cinema, AMC Star Council Bluffs 17, Marcus Midtown Cinema.
SPY is the finest film Paul Feig has directed thus far. BRIDESMAIDS was decent, but the laughs were too few and far between. SPY is consistently funny, and features the best acting I’ve seen from most of its cast. The James Bond spoof is an area of comedy that has been explored many times before, as such SPY occasionally runs the risk of seeming formula, but with the strength of its script, and the help of people behind as well as in front of the camera, the film sustains itself.
Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is a CIA analyst who assists agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). When Fine is assumed dead, Susan is ordered to track down Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), who has access to a nuke and is planning to sell it. Unfortunately Rick Ford (Jason Statham) gives everybody a bit of a headache when he decides to go rogue. What his plan is nobody knows, especially not Ford. The plot gets incredibly convoluted but I would argue that such a touch is intentional. It’s rarely boring anyhow.
One thing I liked about Feig’s direction was how much atmosphere this movie had. The film is certainly a comedy but there are several moments in this thing that were really cool. It could have been plausible as a Bond movie and I really liked that aspect of the film. It felt like a really good spy film and could have worked as such even with Melissa McCarthy in it. With that being said, I felt Jude Law played it too safe. His character is very much the typical “cool spy”, which Law could have easily played him like an idiot and made it work for him.
McCarthy is excellent in this movie. She’ll have moments in the film where she’s cursing up a storm to be certain, but they work because the film writes her character with a firm foot in reality. You buy her as a CIA analyst, she’s smart behind the scenes, giving good advice, and she’s even plausible on the field. She has needs, she’s disappointed with her position, she’s jealous of one of the other agents. SPY wears Susan Cooper’s imperfections as a badge of honor, and still has McCarthy play it relatively straight. That is one of its strongest assets.
Jason Statham steals the show. His Rick Ford is such a delightful idiot and unpredictable presence that everything coming out of Statham’s mouth is pure gold. This is a subversion of Statham’s action hero persona and he rises to the occasion with enthusiasm. This is the kind of performance where, if I were running Hollywood, I would consider for best supporting actor. Statham and Melissa McCarthy interestingly enough have quite a bit of chemistry. I was fascinated because you wouldn’t look at Jason Statham and Melissa McCarthy thinking that they’d have dynamite chemistry. I want to see Statham take more unique roles like this, and I want to see him and McCarthy do more movies together.
The movie is not without its problems. The runtime gets to be a bit much. The film works but I’m not necessarily sure it should have been two hours. This is exasperated when you consider that the plot does get incredibly convoluted, and not necessarily everything makes a whole hell of a lot of sense. The script relies on curse words excessively, which isn’t wholly a bad thing, but it produces mixed results.
SPY is one of the biggest surprises so far this year. The acting is a blast and the film is just as good in terms of its action as it is its jokes. It’s the kind of big surprise that gets you excited for what the people involved are going to do next.